Oklahoma City firefighter to climb 800 stairs to raise money for fight against lung cancer


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma City firefighter who lost a fellow firefighter to lung cancer will participate in the American Lung Association’s outdoor Fight For Air Climb in Oklahoma to raise money for research.

Cpl. Zach Rowell has witnessed both triumph and tragedy in the battle against lung cancer. He lost a colleague to the disease, but his father survived it.

Rowell is taking on the Fight for Air Climb in memory of his friend and in honor of his father, according to an American Lung Association news release.

“Looking at the stats of cancer and lung disease, firefighters are at a very high risk and are susceptible to it,” he said. “We know it’s an issue and a risk, so, we’re going to fight for progress.”

Rowell will be one of 20-25 firefighters on the Oklahoma City-Fire Rescue team of climbers, who have raised over $2,400 for the Lung Association.

“The Lung Association is the industry leader in research,” Rowell said. “Losing my friend to lung cancer, I want to support the funding of research and programs.”

Photo goes with story
Zach Rowell

Registration is now open for the May 1st event, which includes tackling nearly 800 stairs at Wantland Stadium. This year’s event will be outdoors, unlike past events.

“I’m an outdoor person, I love the sunshine and the fresh air,” Rowell said. “Outdoors, we’ll be able to see other people and where they are, so it might make the friendly competition a little more intense.”

Individuals, families, groups of friends, corporate teams and first responders are invited to participate in the 2021 Fight For Air Climb at Wantland Stadium. A ‘Climb Your Way‘ option is offered to those who can’t make it to the physical event.

Participants are required to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

“The safety of participants, staff and volunteers is always our number one priority, so we are continually monitoring local conditions that might affect the Climb. Everyone is encouraged to check our Climb website for the most up-to-date information leading up to the event,” the news release states.

Money raised during the event will be directed toward the Lung Association’s efforts to end lung cancer and lung disease, as well as support the Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative, described in the news release as a $25 million investment to address COVID-19 and protect against future respiratory virus pandemics.

The cost to register for the Fight For Air Climb is $35 and includes a $100 fundraising minimum.

Visit FightForAirClimb.org/OklahomaCity for more information and to register.

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